What Is a BlackBerry?

BlackBerry struggled to compete in the market it created

BlackBerry Priv
TheVerge.com

You may hear people mention a BlackBerry and suspect they're not talking about the fruit. Chances are, they're talking about a BlackBerry smartphone.

The BlackBerry is a smartphone made by the Canadian company BlackBerry Limited (formerly Research In Motion). BlackBerry phones are known for their email handling and security features and are often thought of as business-centric devices, despite BlackBerry's efforts to join the consumer market.

History of the BlackBerry Device

Research in Motion (RIM) released the BlackBerry 850 pager in 1999. BlackBerry handhelds started out as data-only devices; they could not be used to make phone calls. Early models were two-way pagers with full QWERTY keyboards. They were used primarily by business people to send messages back and forth wirelessly.

RIM soon added email capabilities to its BlackBerry devices, which became increasingly popular among lawyers and other corporate users. Early BlackBerry email devices featured full QWERTY keyboards and monochrome screens but still lacked phone features.

The BlackBerry 5810, which was launched in 2002, was the first BlackBerry to add phone functionality. It looked like RIM's data-only devices, retaining the same squat shape, QWERTY keyboard, and monochrome screen. It required a headset and microphone to make voice calls, as the speaker was not built in.

The BlackBerry 6000 series, also launched in 2002, was the first to feature integrated phone functionality, meaning that users did not need an external headset to make calls. The 7000 series added color screens and saw the debut of the SureType keyboard, the modified QWERTY format with two letters on most keys, which allowed for smaller phones.

BlackBerry phones from this era included the BlackBerry Bold, the Curve 8900, and the much-maligned BlackBerry Storm, which abandoned the physical keyboard in favor of a touchscreen.

BlackBerry phones soon all featured color screens, plenty of software, and phone capabilities. They remained true to BlackBerry's roots as an email device: BlackBerry smartphones offer some of the best email handlings you'll find on a smartphone.

Unfortunately for Research in Motion, the smartphone competition was fierce, and the company was forced to try several different things to compete in the field is initiated.

BlackBerry ditched its own OS and released its final smartphones with Google's Android OS—the BlackBerry Priv, DTEK50, and the DTEK60, which was the last phone developed in-house at BlackBerry.

The Future of BlackBerry

BlackBerry turned to enterprise software and services. It focuses on securing and managing Internet of Things endpoints using BlackBerry Secure an end-to-end Enterprise of Things solution.

BlackBerry has joined with manufacturer TCL Corporation to produce BlackBerry-branded smartphones outside the U.S.

TCL soon released the BlackBerry KeyONE in the U.S. It joined the DTEK50, DTEK60, and then the BlackBerry Motion as BlackBerry smartphones available in the U.S. in 2018.